Gingerbread House Decorating Party

gingerbread houses

Alternate title: The Return of Craft Day.

My coworker hardcore mocked me for this today, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I like to host craft days. Yes, I’m twenty-something years old; yes, I have friends; yes, I like to go out…but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from constantly going out, spending money on dinner/drinks/appetizers, and not really having anything to show for it other than a Facebook check-in and maybe a picture of your dinner. It’s nice to sit down at someone’s house/apartment, have a few drinks with friends, and make something. Plus, I like themed activities.

Past craft days have included terrarium building (epic fail) and snow globe making (much more successful). This winter, I decided on gingerbread house decorating.

building gingerbread houses

gingerbread house decorating

We used graham crackers instead of actual gingerbread. This is:

1. Because I didn’t want to buy 10 gingerbread house kits, and

2. Because I think it encourages creativity when you’re not forced into one specific house shape.

I used this royal icing recipe, which didn’t dry as quickly as I was hoping, but when it did dry, it dried like cement. These gingerbread houses are not coming apart any time soon.

eggnog martinis

Going along with the winter theme, eggnog martinis and winter beers were served. I asked everyone to either bring a seasonal beverage or a bag of candy to decorate the houses with. We ended up with a plethora of candy to choose from and some very festive gingerbread houses.

gingerbread houses

gingerbread house

And yes, I created a “gingerbread house gallery wall” for inspiration and decoration.


Craft days are the best days. You heard it here first.

Breakfast Burritos (freezer cooking)

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, right? Also, the hardest one to squeeze in. I am just not a morning person. Mornings should be spent curled up in bed, not running around trying to look presentable and pack a lunch and brew coffee AND make breakfast. Like, how many things am I expected to do before I’ve ingested a proper level of caffeine?

So I’ve been buying these frozen breakfast burritos from Target. They’re great. And they’re not crazy expensive, but I decided I wanted to see if I could make my own. So I turned to Pinterest and found this frozen breakfast burrito recipe. I made a few tweaks though.bfast1

Breakfast Burrito Ingredients

  • 12 Medium Flour Tortillas
  • 1 Dozen Eggs or 20oz. Egg Whites
  • 1 Pound Turkey Sausage
  • 1 ½ Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
    (or whatever flavor floats your boat)
  • 1 Small Bell Pepper Chopped
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 Russet Potato Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
    (or less if you don’t really like Cumin…)
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil


Breakfast Burrito Instructions

  1. Dice potato. In large skillet, heat olive oil, and saute potato chunks until soft and nicely roasted on the outside. This is a great time to be chopping your veggies while the potato cooks.
  2. Add onions and bell peppers, stirring occasionally and cooking until they begin to get tender (4-5 minutes).Q7SfaKJqL-mWca_Dfr-0RInYV4M3kli7gRzYjWZKxGR3X8LgYY-W8Ou1VKoVGUXhVA=w1266-h629
  3. Mix in sausage cooking for an additional 6-7 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink. (Because I’m lazy and picking out raw sausage overwhelms me, I used pre-cooked sausage. So for this step, I just stirred it around so everything mixed and the flavors got a chance to meld.)
  4. If using whole eggs, in a large bowl beat lightly with a fork until all yolks are broken mixing in cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and salt. (I used one carton of Southwestern style Egg Beaters and 3 real eggs because I like to get a bit of that yolk taste in there, too.)
  5. Pour eggs over sausage and veggie mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.
  6. Mix in cheese and stir together until cheese is mixed well and melting.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Place tortillas on cutting board or clean surface and spoon  mixture on each tortilla.
  9. Roll tortilla in burrito fashion
  10. Wrap each burrito in plastic wrap then aluminum foil and place in large plastic freezer bags or airtight container.

To heat, I unwrap them totally, then wrap loosely in a paper towel, and microwave for one minute on each side on a microwave-safe plate. Let sit a minute or so and then devour! NOM NOM NOM.



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Parmesan Garlic Chicken


I thought about adding a real vegetable. And then I was like “Meh, that’s what sweet potato fries are for!” This chicken was fast and easy to make. And so tasty!

Parmesan Garlic Chicken

Via Hesitantly Healthy

  • 2 large defrosted chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic (fresh or jarred)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup whole wheat panko crumbs
  • ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix garlic and olive oil in a bowl.
  3. Dredge each chicken breast in extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Mix panko and parmesan together in a shallow dish.
  5. Dip each chicken breast into the panko/parmesan mixture then place them into a baking dish (be sure to grease it if it’s not nonstick).
  6. Top with a sprinkle of black pepper.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes then check for doneness, cook in additional 5 minute increments until there is no pink.

Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL) Cheesecake


I make some variation of pumpkin cheesecake every year for Thanksgiving. This year, my friend suggested making a cheesecake version of a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. I loved the idea and headed straight to Pinterest. Of course, it had been done before (as all good ideas have) and the recipe I selected is from Sprinkle Bakes. This cheesecake was super easy to make, and turned out delicious!

Vanilla wafers
4 tbsp. butter melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Crush up vanilla wafers. I do this in a big ziplock bag using a random jar or bottle to smash the cookies. I cannot tell you how many vanilla wafers to use, because I just eyeball it. Just go crazy! Mix with the melted butter.  Press into the bottom (not up sides) of a 9-inch spring-form pan.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Cool completely.

2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar divided
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup of canned pumpkin
2  tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
3 tsp. espresso powder, or Starbucks VIA instant coffee (if you like to waste money on fancy instant coffee…I mean, for “authenticity.”)

Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Mix eggs in one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Remove one cup of the mixture and transfer to another bowl.  Dissolve espresso powder in a very small amount of hot water and stir (just enough water so it dissolves and isn’t grainy). Add the espresso  to the 1 cup of filling and mix until batter is uniform in color.  Set aside.

Blend 1/4 cup of sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and allspice into the remaining filling.  Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the crust in the spring-form pan.  Top pumpkin mixture with the 1 cup coffee filling mixture.

Bake for 55 minutes or until filling is set. The cheesecake will puff up in the middle a little bit as it bakes and then relax back down as it cools. I let it sit in an open, turned off oven for about 20ish minutes before taking it out. This helps it transition from temperatures and not crack on top. Run a knife around the edge of the pan for easy un-molding.  Allow the cheesecake to cool before removing rim of spring-form pan.  Chill until ready to serve.

You can get all fancy with the garnish–powdered sugar, dollops of whipped cream, cinnamon sticks–whatever screams “Pumpkin Spice Latte” to you! I was feeling a little lazy at this point on Thanksgiving, so I just sprinkled some powdered sugar on it and called it good.


Yield: 9″ cake, serves 8-10

Apple Cinnamon Bourbon Caramel Blondies

bourbon blondies

My friend “made” some apple cinnamon bourbon recently. I don’t know the specifics, but it involved putting apple slices and cinnamon in an empty whiskey bottle and then refilling it with booze and letting it sit for some amount of time. And then he brought it to a party and let me try it and I said, “Oh god, that is awful…so awful…but can I have a couple tablespoons to make a dessert???”

Because the way to get people to share their alcoholic infusions with you is by making terrible faces and insulting them…But it worked! And I bring you Apple Cinnamon Bourbon Caramel Blondies!

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and cooled
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small pan on medium heat, melt the butter stirring occasionally.  Cook the butter until it begins to have a nutty smell and turns an amber color.  Do not overcook and watch out–it burns easily. Remove the browned butter to a glass bowl or cup and set aside to cool.
Cut a length of parchment paper to fit a 8×8 baking dish allowing the paper to come up to the top of the pan on both sides.  Cut another sheet to fit in the opposite direction also trimming at the top of the pan.  Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder and salt together in a small mixing bowl.  Set aside.
In another medium mixing bowl combine the browned butter and brown sugar until blended.  Add the egg and mix well.  Blend in the bourbon and vanilla and mix just until incorporated.  Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until combined.  Do not over-mix.
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Pour caramel in fancy swirls or crisscrossing lines all over the top.
Bake until the top is shiny, cracked and light golden brown, 22-24 minutes.  Try not to over-bake. Much like brownies, blondies should be soft and gooey, not crunch.
Cool the blondies in the pan then lift out using the parchment paper.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bite sized squares.  Enjoy!

I based this off a blondie recipe from Saving Room for Dessert, but took out the nuts and chocolate b/c I felt like that would be too many flavors with the apple cinnamon bourbon.